IS PRESIDENT OBAMA DESIGNATING LATINO ICON’S CESAR CHAVEZ’ HOME A NATIONAL MONUMENT?

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

President Barack Obama is designating the California home of labor leader Cesar Chavez as a national monument, a move likely to shore up support from Hispanic and progressive voters just five weeks before the election.

Labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez is buried at La Paz in Keene, Calif., where President Obama will announce a national monument next week. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / October 1, 2012)

The White House said Monday that Obama will establish the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in Keene, Calif., during a campaign swing through California next week. The property is known as La Paz, short for Nuestra Senora Reina de la Paz, or Our Lady Queen of Peace. The site served as national headquarters of the United Farm Workers union, as well as Chavez’s home, from the early 1970s until his death in 1993. Chavez is buried there and his gravesite will be part of the monument.

uestra Seňora Reina de La Paz (commonly known as La Paz) is a property encompassing 187 acres in the Tehachapi Mountains of eastern Kern County, California, and is associated with Cesar Chavez (1927-1993), one of the most important historic Latino leaders in the United States.

Obama said in a statement that Chavez “gave a voice to poor and disenfranchised workers everywhere,” adding that La Paz was at the center of significant civil rights events. By designating his home as a national monument, “Chavez’ legacy will be preserved and shared to inspire generations to come,” Obama said.

Obama said in a statement that Chavez “gave a voice to poor and disenfranchised workers everywhere.” (Photo: AP)

As head of the UFW, Chavez staged a massive grape boycott that raised awareness of the plight of predominantly Latino farm workers. His efforts were credited with inspiring millions of other Latinos in their fight for more educational opportunities, better housing and more political power.

Cesar Chavez Phoenix Rallies 05/1972 Photographer: El Malcriado

Creation of a national monument at La Paz follows designation of the site in the San Joaquin Valley near Bakersfield as a national historic site. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the site’s designation on the National Register of Historic Places last year. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Chavez’s founding of the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the UFW. The Chavez monument will be the fourth national monument designated by Obama using the Antiquities Act.

Read More: Seattle Times

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CESAR CHAVEZ DAY: REMEMBERING A HISPANIC LEGEND AND ICONIC SAYING “SI SE PUEDE…YES WE CAN”

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

When Barack Obama campaigned to be the nation’s 44th president, he used the simple mantra, “Yes We Can” — a translation of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez‘s chant, “Si se puede.”Nearly four years after the presidential election, Obama’s paying homage to the man whose words helped him win office, decreeing Saturday, March 31st of 2012, the 85th anniversary of the civil rights icon’s birthday, Cesar Chavez Day.

This LA Times photo captures a moment of
friendship between Bobby Kennedy and Chavez
during Chavez's 25-day fast in 1960.

The civil rights leader, who fought for fair wages and humane treatment for California’s farm workers in California, championed principles of nonviolence through boycotts, fasts, and marches. In conjunction with Dolores Huerta, Chavez founded the United Farm Workers of America, an organization devoted to defending the rights of farmhands and field workers across the country.
Earlier this week, the White House honored ten local leaders who “exemplify Cesar Chavez’s core values,” inviting the activists, farmworkers, and professors to speak at a panel called, “Champions of Change,” hosted by HuffPost LatinoVoices blogger, Viviana Hurtado.

On March 10th, 1968, Cesar Chavez breaks his 25-day fast by accepting bread from Senator Robert Kennedy, Delano, California.
Left to right: Helen Chavez, Robert Kennedy, Cesar Chavez Photographer: Richard Darby

One of those “champions” was Rogelio Lona, a a farm worker, activist, and community organizer who worked in the fields of California for more than 47 years.
Unbearable working conditions lead Lona to join UFW in 1972.  “We were treated as slaves, we did not have any representation in society, we were discriminated against and there were neither benefits nor labor protections,” Lona wrote in a blog on the White House website. Lona said that he accepted the award on behalf of all of those working in America’s fields, and was adamant that he will never be done fighting. “Rogelio, the struggle will never end, we must always be prepared,” Lona recalls Chavez telling him.

Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy and Cesar Chavez address the audience at an unknown meeting, possibly on the floor of the United States Senate.

Many of the panelists that spoke on Thursday focused on the importance of placing Cesar Chavez’s legacy in a modern context. A few of the activists said Cesar Chavez’s words should be remembered in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform, the Dream Act, and the on-going struggle to end harsh state immigration laws like those in Arizona and Alabama.

Activists in Tucson, Arizona say that Chavez’s fight against discrimination is especially alive in their city. After the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) banned the city’s Mexican-American studies program, organizers say that the annual Cesar Chavez march would no longer be held at a local high school because of further censorship from the school district.

According to Laura Dent, an organizer of the Arizona Cesar Chavez Holiday Coalition, the TUSD stipulated that there could be no mention to the elimination of Tucson’s Mexican-American studies program in order for it to be held at Pueblo High Magnet School, where it has been held for more than a decade.
“So the Chavez Coalition decided that with that kind of level of censorship, we would just move the staging area of the event,” Dent told NPR.

Viviana Hurtado, the moderator of the White House’s commemorative panel, told The Huffington Post that she was able to chat briefly with Cesar Chavez’s son about what advice his father would give us in a modern context.

Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union,
with McGovern for President supporters ("Grassroot McGoverners" in the language of the time) marching from the Civic Center to Union Square in San Francisco against Proposition 22 which forbade secondary boycotts.
Fall, 1972.

According to Hurtado, Chavez’s son believes his father would say, “Don’t just be frustrated with the situation ahead of you. Get up and do something. Take action.”

Read More: HUFFINGTON POST

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DOES A LATINA RUN THE GIRL SCOUTS: CELEBRATING 100 YEARS WITH CEO ANA MARIA CHAVEZ

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Latina leader to her Girl Scouts: Prepare to lead

When 10-year-old Anna Maria Chavez joined Girl Scout Troop 304 in the small town of Eloy, Arizona, she never thought the experience would eventually lead her to occupy a colorful office just off Fifth Avenue in the heart of Manhattan.

While about half of all women in the United States were Girl Scouts at some point in their lives,  today, one in 10 of those girls are Latina. One of them is Chavez, who last year became the first Hispanic CEO of the organization.

At the headquarters of Girls Scouts Inc., Chavez is celebrating the organization’s 100th anniversary surrounded by apple-green walls and shelves of memorabilia. Instead of magazines in the small waiting area, there are cookie jars.

“I never ever imagined that I would become the national CEO of Girl Scouts,” she said. “You need to understand where I came from.”

In This Photo: Anna Maria Chavez Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images North America)

Chavez was the only daughter in a Mexican immigrant family that came to the U.S. to work on farms. Hers was the first generation in the family to attend college.

Chavez said when she was a girl her own family had no knowledge about Girl Scouts and what they do. “I went home to my abuelita, my nana, and I said, ‘Nana I’m gonna be a Girl Scout,’ and she said ‘Y eso? Que hacen?’ you know, ‘What do they do?’” Chavez recalled.

For a young Chavez, camping and meeting girls from different backgrounds helped her to become more confident and independent. That helped in her teen years, when she moved from Eloy to Phoenix, and entered a large school where she was one of about a dozen Mexican students.

Her undergraduate education was at Yale, where a high SAT score helped her get accepted and earn a scholarship.

“When I got in, people were shocked and dismayed because nobody in our high school had gotten into this school. ‘You’re Latina, don’t you think you should stay in state?’” she said. “And I was like ‘Wait a minute, I have no boundaries!’”  She credits her Girl Scouts experience with helping her to make that decision.

Gallery: The first Girl Scout: Daisy Gordon Lawrence

Her tenure in the Girl Scouts also helped her make her career choice. Chavez remembered a family picnic during childhood, when she discovered a cave with Native American drawings that had been scribbled over with graffiti. Her outrage, she recalled, turned into a desire to become an attorney and “make laws” to stop things like this from happening.

“Only the Girl Scouts could charge me in a way to understand that even as a small girl, I could make a difference…” she said.

So after Yale, she returned to Phoenix to get a law degree and went on to become a successful attorney, eventually working for former Arizona Governor – and Girl Scouts alumna – Janet Napolitano. Later, she took up regional direction of Girl Scouts in San Antonio, Texas.

The position paved the way for her current job at the helm of the organization in New York.  “Girl Scouts and my family taught me to dream big,” she said. “Nothing was impossible.”

Now, she’s on a mission: To help the Girl Scouts of today become the leaders of tomorrow, like she did.

“If you look across the country, the top 10 job sectors, only 18 percent of leadership positions in those sectors are held by women,” she said, citing a survey conducted by Girl Scouts. “What were saying is, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could increase women in these leadership roles?’”

That message of leadership especially resonates with Latina mothers, who “want their daughters to succeed; they want their daughters to explore other options in their lives,” Chavez said.

According to the Girl Scouts, there are three million girls and women volunteers in the United States alone. The organization is present in 90 countries and claims to have made an impact in the lives of more than 59 million members in the course of its history.

As the scouts turn a century old, Chavez is intent on revamping the organization’s image. “People love Girl Scouts… they see our brand and they smile and think cookies, camp and crafts, but we want them to see premier leadership organization for girls in this country, if not this world,” she said.

Her vision for the future was already working in Queens Village, New York, where several troops met to commemorate World Thinking Day, a celebration of Girl Scouts around the world and a chance for scouts to pin new badges to their vests.

READ MORE: CNN IN AMERICA

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